UK-Iranian ‘hostage’ Zaghari-Ratcliffe due back in Tehran jail
British-Iranian woman Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe faces a new court appearance next week in Tehran and will be hauled back to jail, her husband said Wednesday, expressing fear her case could drag on “for years”.
Iran last month abruptly postponed a new trial of Zaghari-Ratcliffe, but she has now been told to report to a court on Monday, Richard Ratcliffe said in a statement.
“She was told to pack a bag for prison and bring it with her when the IRGC (Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) pick her up, since that is where she will be going after court,” he said.
Ratcliffe linked the development to the postponement of a hearing that was due to take place on Tuesday in London, to address Iran’s longstanding demand for the repayment by Britain of hundreds of millions from an old military order.
After speaking with British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Tuesday, Ratcliffe said in the statement that the UK government’s diplomatic approach “seems disastrous”.
“It is imperative that the UK protects Nazanin. I told the foreign secretary that I felt the UK is dancing to Iran’s tune, and exposing Nazanin to abuse because of it,” Ratcliffe said.
“As Nazanin’s husband, I do think that if she’s not home for Christmas, there’s every chance this could run for years,” he added, accusing Iran of “hostage diplomacy”.
Raab on Wednesday said that Iran’s treatment of Zaghari-Ratcliffe was “unacceptable and unjustified”.
The “arbitrary detention” tarnishes Iran’s reputation, Raab added.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who will turn 42 on Boxing Day, has been on temporary release from Tehran’s Evin prison and under house arrest since earlier this year because of the coronavirus pandemic.
She has spent more than four years in jail or under house arrest since being arrested in the Iranian capital in April 2016 while visiting relatives with her young daughter.
Zaghari-Ratcliffe, who worked for the Thomson Reuters Foundation — the media organisation’s philanthropic arm — denied charges of sedition but was convicted and jailed for five years.
Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the government was raising its concerns with Iran “at the highest levels”.